23 January, 2021

Ulysses Revisited

Tabulating the great works of our times can be a perilous exercise

Ulysses Revisited
WHAT joys the fin de siecle brings. As we step warily, wearily, into the next century—the next millennium, in fact—there is the undeniable thrill of pausing to look back, to sift through the past 10 decades, to judge, to quibble over each other's appraisals. And for enthusiasts of the written word, it offers a return from bewilderingly overstocked bookshelves to the works that helped shape our world and sharpen our sensitivities. So last week when an editorial board of the Modern Library compiled a list of the 100 best English-language novels, it was inevitable that there would be a furious volley of questions.

Is Ulysses, James Joyce's meandering rewrite of the literary rulebook, really the greatest work? Yes, says Penguin editor David Davidar, if the mark of "a creative endeavour is to broaden the scope of the genre, re-establish norms". Hmm, opines veteran journalist Sham Lal: "Unless you have a guide, 999 out of 1,000 readers will not be able to grasp it." What about number two, The Great Gatsby? "Yes, definitely," avers publisher Ravi Vyas, who has read 90 of...



To read this piece, and more such stories in India's most exciting and exacting magazine, plus get access to our 25-year archives goldmine, please subscribe.

In this article:

More from Mini Kapoor

Latest Magazine

February 01, 2021

other articles from the issue

articles from the previous issue

Other magazine section